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Reflections for the Possibility of Democracy
The U.S.-Mexico Experience
Mexico ranks highly on many of the measures that have proven significant for creating a positive human rights record, including democratization, good health and life expectancy, and engagement in the global economy. Yet the nation's most vulnerable populations suffer human rights abuses on a large scale, such as gruesome killings in the Mexican drug war, decades of violent feminicide, migrant deaths in the U.S. desert, and the ongoing effects of the failed detention and deportation system in the States. Some atrocities have received extensive and sensational coverage, while others have become routine or simply ignored by national and international media. Binational Human Rights examines both well-known and understudied instances of human rights crises in Mexico, arguing that these abuses must be understood not just within the context of Mexican policies but in relation to the actions or inactions of other nations—particularly the United States.
The United States and Mexico share the longest border in the world between a developed and a developing nation; the relationship between the two nations is complex, varied, and constantly changing, but the policies of each directly affect the human rights situation across the border. Binational Human Rights brings together explain the mechanisms by which a perfect storm of structural and policy factors on both sides has led to such widespread human rights abuses.
Contributors: Alejandro Anaya Muñoz, Luis Alfredo Arriola Vega, Timothy J. Dunn, Miguel Escobar-Valdez, Clara Jusidman, Maureen Meyer, Carol Mueller, Julie A. Murphy Erfani, William Paul Simmons, Kathleen Staudt, Michelle Téllez.
The Politics of Black Pan-Ethnic Diversity
Historically, Black Americans have easily found common ground on political, social, and economic goals. Yet, there are signs of increasing variety of opinion among Blacks in the United States, due in large part to the influx of Afro-Latino, Afro-Caribbean, and African immigrants to the United States. In fact, the very definition of “African American” as well as who can self-identity as Black is becoming more ambiguous. Should we expect African Americans’ shared sense of group identity and high sense of group consciousness to endure as ethnic diversity among the population increases? In Black Mosaic, Candis Watts Smith addresses the effects of this dynamic demographic change on Black identity and Black politics.
Smith explores the numerous ways in which the expanding and rapidly changing demographics of Black communities in the United States call into question the very foundations of political identity that has united African Americans for generations. African Americans’ political attitudes and behaviors have evolved due to their historical experiences with American Politics and American racism. Will Black newcomers recognize the inconsistencies between the American creed and American reality in the same way as those who have been in the U.S. for several generations? If so, how might this recognition influence Black immigrants’ political attitudes and behaviors? Will race be a site of coalition between Black immigrants and African Americans? In addition to face-to-face interviews with African Americans and Black immigrants, Smith employs nationally representative survey data to examine these shifts in the attitudes of Black Americans. Filling a significant gap in the political science literature to date, Black Mosaic is a groundbreaking study about the state of race, identity, and politics in an ever-changing America.
William Patterson and the Globalization of the African American Freedom Struggle
A leading African American Communist, lawyer William L. Patterson (1891â€“1980) was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the defeat of Jim Crow by virtue of his leadership of the Scottsboro campaign in the 1930s. In this watershed biography, historian Gerald Horne shows how Patterson helped to advance African American equality by fostering and leveraging international support for the movement. Horne highlights key moments in Patterson's global activism: his early education in the Soviet Union, his involvement with the Scottsboro trials and other high-profile civil rights cases of the 1930s to 1950s, his 1951 We Charge Genocide petition to the United Nations, and his later work with prisons and the Black Panther Party. Through Patterson's story, Horne examines how the Cold War affected the freedom movement, with civil rights leadership sometimes disavowing African American leftists in exchange for concessions from the U.S. government. He also probes the complex and often contradictory relationship between the Communist Party and the African American community, including the impact of the FBI's infiltration of the Communist Party. Drawing from government and FBI documents, newspapers, periodicals, archival and manuscript collections, and personal papers, Horne documents Patterson's effectiveness at carrying the freedom struggle into the global arena and provides a fresh perspective on twentieth-century struggles for racial justice.
The Use of Strategic Litigation to Silence Political Expression
Strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP) involves lawsuits brought by individuals, corporations, groups, or politicians to curtail political activism and expression. An increasingly large part of the political landscape in Canada, they are often launched against those protesting, boycotting, or participating in some form of political activism. A common feature of SLAPPs is that their intention is rarely to win the case or secure a remedy; rather, the suit is brought to create a chill on political expression.
Blocking Public Participation examines the different types of litigation and causes of action that frequently form the basis of SLAPPs, and how these lawsuits transform political disputes into legal cases, thereby blocking political engagement. The resource imbalance between plaintiffs and defendants allows plaintiffs to tie up defendants in complex and costly legal processes. The book also examines the dangers SLAPPs pose to political expression and to the quality and integrity of our democratic political institutions. Finally, the book examines the need to regulate SLAPPs in Canada and assesses various regulatory proposals.
In Canada, considerable attention has been paid to the “legalization of politics” and the impact on the Charter in diverting political activism into the judicial arena. SLAPPs, however, are an under-studied element of this process, and in their obstruction of political engagement through recourse to the courts they have profound implications for democratic practice.
Comparing Border Security in North America and Europe
Border security has been high on public-policy agendas in Europe and North America since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City and on the headquarters of the American military in Washington DC. Governments are now confronted with managing secure borders, a policy objective that in this era of increased free trade and globalization must compete with intense cross-border flows of people and goods. Border-security policies must enable security personnel to identify, or filter out, dangerous individuals and substances from among the millions of travelers and tons of goods that cross borders daily, particularly in large cross-border urban regions. This book addresses this gap between security needs and an understanding of borders and borderlands. Specifically, the chapters in this volume ask policy-makers to recognize that two fundamental elements define borders and borderlands: first, human activities (the agency and agent power of individual ties and forces spanning a border), and second, the broader social processes that frame individual action, such as market forces, government activities (law, regulations, and policies), and the regional culture and politics of a borderland. Borders emerge as the historically and geographically variable expression of human ties exercised within social structures of varying force and influence, and it is the interplay and interdependence between people's incentives to act and the surrounding structures (i.e. constructed social processes that contain and constrain individual action) that determine the effectiveness of border security policies. This book argues that the nature of borders is to be porous, which is a problem for security policy makers. It shows that when for economic, cultural, or political reasons human activities increase across a border and borderland, governments need to increase cooperation and collaboration with regard to security policies, if only to avoid implementing mismatched security policies.
Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s
Perhaps the most spectacular reaction to court-ordered busing in the 1970s occurred in Boston, where there was intense and protracted protest. Ron Formisano explores the sources of white opposition to school desegregation. Racism was a key factor, Formisano argues, but racial prejudice alone cannot explain the movement. Class resentment, ethnic rivalries, and the defense of neighborhood turf all played powerful roles in the protest.
In a new epilogue, Formisano brings the story up to the present day, describing the end of desegregation orders in Boston and other cities. He also examines the nationwide trend toward the resegregation of schools, which he explains is the result of Supreme Court decisions, attacks on affirmative action, white flight, and other factors. He closes with a brief look at the few school districts that have attempted to base school assignment policies on class or economic status.
The Case That Changed the Face of Human Rights
Young seventeen-year-old Joelito Filártiga was taken from his family home in Asunción, Paraguay, brutally tortured, and murdered by the Paraguayan police. Breaking Silence is the inside story of the quest for justice by his father—the true target of the police—Paraguayan artist and philanthropist Dr. Joel Filártiga. That cruel death, and the subsequent uncompromising struggle by Joelito's father and family, led to an unprecedented sea change in international law and human rights. The author, Richard Alan White, first became acquainted with the Filártiga family in the mid-1970s while doing research for his dissertation on Paraguayan independence. Answering a distressed letter from Joelito's father, he returned to Paraguay and journeyed with the Filártiga family on their long and difficult road to redress. White gives the reader a compelling first-hand, participant-observer perspective, taking us into the family with him, to give witness to not only their agony and sorrow, but their resolute strength as well—strength that led to a groundbreaking $10 million legal decision in Filártiga v. Peña. (Americo Norberto Peña-Irala was the Paraguayan police officer responsible for Joelito's abduction and murder, whom the Filártigas had arrested after finding him hiding in Brooklyn.) That landmark decision, based on the almost obscure Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789, ruled that U.S. courts could accept jurisdiction in international cases—recognizing the right of foreign human rights victims to sue—even though the alleged violation occurred in another country by a non-American and against a non-American. So fundamentally has the Filártiga precedent changed the landscape of international human rights law, that it has served as the basis for nearly 100 progeny suits, and grown to encompass not only human rights abuses, but also violations of international environmental and labor rights law. Today, there are dozens of class action suits pending against corporate defendants ranging from oil conglomerates destroying the Amazon rainforest to designer clothing companies running sweatshops abroad. Breaking Silence is a remarkable, consuming story, documenting not only the most celebrated case in the international human rights field—but also the tragic and touchingly human story behind it that gives it life. In 2001, Dr. Filártiga was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and the Alien Tort Claims Act continues to be hotly debated among politicians and lawmakers.